About Me

Jisu Kim

Hi, I’m Jisu.

Welcome! Thanks for stopping by! I’m happy you’re here and grateful you want to know more about my story. After all, I’m more than just an interpreter or translator, and this website is more than a professional portfolio.

I live with a purpose: to help people find belonging and happiness wherever they are. To help people feel alive and connected to others and the world around them.

How it all started

Born in the USA and raised under strictly Korean parents, I faced a lot of confusion growing up. My parents couldn’t coach me on the English language or how to be a good student within the American education system. And my teachers at school couldn’t help me when I clashed with my Korean parents at home. Looking back, it was like traveling back and forth between the States and South Korea every day. Learning two languages and cultures simultaneously was anything but easy. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.

Even amongst my Asian American peers, the majority rejected their Asian heritage and identified more strongly as American. To be honest, I identified more as an American too. But a lot of times, I felt left out because I was “too Korean.”

My search for identity

For college, I moved out of my home state to start over and build new relationships and a new life in a place where no one knew me. I no longer had to travel mentally between Korea and America each day. Now that I lived in my college dorm, I could speak only English and live in the States all day, every day. I thought I would finally find my place in the country I grew up in.

I was wrong.

Despite my efforts to be the perfect American, no one saw me as one. Realizing I couldn’t completely deny my Asian heritage, I studied abroad in China during my junior year, hoping for a different understanding of Asian culture and somehow get closer to my Korean roots. Then after graduating college, I moved to South Korea to live there and teach English for a couple of years, buying some time to learn who I am, figure out my dream job, and get my life in order.

Once I got to Korea, I immediately started following local fashion trends and worked hard to master the Korean language and my pronunciation to fit in with the locals. But I was hugely let down when I stepped into a shoe shop. The owner commented, “I smell butter on you.” When I asked what he meant in perfect Korean, he explained, “I mean, you look like you’re from overseas.”

Apparently, I couldn’t be a complete Korean either.

Self-acceptance through meditation

With my mom’s recommendation, I started a meditation program in Korea. Through deep reflection and systematic elimination of all the stories I’d adopted about myself based on my life experiences, I realized I didn’t have to be this or that, one or the other, Korean or American. I could simply live in between.

This was incredibly freeing and eye-opening. I had been looking for my answer in external surroundings and other people instead of seeing and accepting myself simply the way I was.

Once I accepted that I was just me, not a Korean American, an American Korean, or whatever other label people put on me, I began living my life. All kinds of opportunities began appearing before me. The CEO of a small Korean technology company hired me as his translator and interpreter in meetings with his US business partner. The meditation program onboarded me as one of their translators and interpreters for group meditation lectures, workshops, and seminars. After I came back to the States and began working as a meditation instructor, I was asked to help translate one of the founder’s books and several lectures.

The pivot into freelancing

As the pandemic started, I decided to jump into the translation, interpretation, and localization industry full-time. Language access had always been poking its head at me since I was a child, but I had never given it a chance because I was so bent on figuring myself out a different way.

I found my place in the world between the Korean and American cultures. I didn’t have to define myself by any single language or culture. Now, I choose to embrace this role that the universe has given me, and I feel so free and joyful as a result.

So, that’s my story. I sincerely thank you for reading this.

I hope you find something useful on my website. Or perhaps you find inspiration to live as your true self, wherever you are in life. Whatever your story is, I wish you nothing but happiness, freedom, and joy.

Jisu Kim